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Dancer Exodus at Pennsylvania Ballet

At the time of our April/May cover shoot, Mayara Piñeiro was soloist. She's now a new principal at PAB. (photo by Nathan Sayers for Pointe)

The other shoe has dropped at Pennsylvania Ballet, a little over a year into former American Ballet Theatre star Angel Corella's new artistic directorship. Corella was appointed in July, 2014 and quickly made changes. In August, 2014, most of the senior artistic staff left the company. Now, Pointe contributor and Pennsylvania-based journalist Ellen Dunkel reports in The Inquirer that nearly 40 percent of the dancers are doing the same.

Since PAB is an AGMA company, the company's union rules stipulate that new directors must spend one continuous year on the job before terminating dancers' contracts. In a rather unprecedented mass firing, twelve were let go, and five are leaving of their own volition.

Dunkel writes that six dancers were paid to leave the company last year, and says others are thinking of leaving now. Notable departures include principal Lauren Fadeley, who chose to join Miami City Ballet as a soloist. Her husband, principal Francis Veyette did not have his contract renewed and will also leave the company—including his position as Pennsylvania Ballet II artistic director. Soloist Evelyn Kocak will move to New York City for a freelance career. Many other exiting dancers are in the corps.

Corella has drummed up excitement for the company with his own staging of Don Quixote (a first for PAB) and a recent tour to NYC. Though the tour received measured reviews, it gave NYC audiences and critics a chance to see some of the talent (like our April/May cover star, Mayara Piñeiro) that Corella has been pushing—and pushing hard. It also indicated his vision for PAB's future: A lot less Balanchine, which has traditionally been the backbone of the company. As PAB moves forward, it looks to no longer be a priority.

In the process of reshaping the company, Corella has hired a slew of new dancers and promoted current members. Soloists Lillian DiPiazza, Oksana Maslova and Piñeiro have all been promoted to principal dancers. In a wild twist, American Ballet Theatre corps member Sterling Bacca has been hired as a principal. Dance Theatre of Harlem member Nayara Lopes will join as a corps member. Dayesi Torriente, a former principal dancer at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, comes on board as soloist. Check out the full list of new hires here.

As Corella continues to make changes, we wish the best to the newly unemployed dancers and wait excitedly to see where the next few years of leadership and programming take the company.

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Angela Sterling, Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

Clear your schedule now for Monday, January 29th, 2:45PM (EST)/ 11:45AM (PST). Pacific Northwest Ballet will be live-streaming rehearsal from Kent Stowell's Swan Lake, straight from their Seattle, WA-based studios. To psych us up for their on stage performances February 2nd - 11th, PNB is letting us in on their Act II rehearsal.

From the corps of swans to Odette and Prince Siegfried's pas de deux, and the infamous four swans, this rehearsal is not to be missed. You can sign up now for a live-stream reminder on their site. In the meantime, we'll be brushing up on our Cygnets with this PNB sneak peek.

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Rigorous program, check. Well-rounded technical training, check. Purposeful liberal arts curriculum, check. Study your craft abroad, check! If you are looking for all the above, the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College truly has it all.

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Lopez in Circus Polka. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB.

When Miami City Ballet artistic director Lourdes Lopez was a principal dancer at New York City Ballet, she missed her opportunity to honor Jerome Robbins onstage. "Every time there was a celebration for Jerry, I was either injured or had just retired," says Lopez. "I was never able to publicly thank him onstage for all that he taught us and the beauty he left us."

But when Lopez was planning MCB's Jerome Robbins Celebration for the 100th anniversary of the legend's birth, she saw an opportunity. She asked the Robbins Trust to allow her to perform the Ringmaster in Robbins' Circus Polka, a role the choreographer originated himself.

Keep reading at dancemagazine.com.

Summer Study Advice
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Videos are a great alternative when auditioning in person isn't possible. Here are some general guidelines for making a good impression.

1. Follow directions. Before filming, research what each school you're interested in requires. "It demonstrates your ability to follow instructions, and schools pay attention to that," says Kate Lydon, artistic director of American Ballet Theatre's summer intensives and the ABT Studio Company. "If the guidelines haven't been followed, your video might not be watched the whole way through." You may need to make multiple versions to accommodate different schools.

2. Videos should be no longer than 10 minutes. "Keep it short, simple and direct," advises Philip Neal, dance department chair at The Patel Conservatory and artistic director of Next Generation Ballet. "You have to be sensitive to how much time the director has to sit down and look at it." Barre can be abbreviated, showing only one side per exercise, alternating. Directors will be looking at fundamentals—placement, turnout, leg lines, stability—but don't ignore musicality or movement quality. Make sure music choices match combinations and are correctly synced in the footage.

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Career
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I want to be a professional dancer, but my parents won't listen. They either don't think I can do it (contrary to what my teachers have said) or they won't let me take the necessary steps to become a professional. Please help. —Audrey

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Videos

They say that pigeons mate for life—perhaps that's why these birds naturally symbolize the young lovers in Sir Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons. In these two clips from a 1987 performance in Pisa, Alessandra Ferri and Robert LaFosse—then stars with American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, respectively—dance a rapturous pas de deux at the end of Act II. With tiny pricks of her feet and bird-like flaps of her elbows in Part 1, Ferri marks her anguish, thinking she's been abandoned for another woman. Later, both she and LaFosse grow more and more entangled as they reconcile, Ferri dancing with the passionate abandon she's famous for. I love how in Part 2 (0:20), they can't seem to get enough of each other as their necks arch and intertwine. At the end of the ballet, two pigeons fly in to perch symbolically on the chair—er, there's supposed to be two. It looks like one missed its cue at this performance! No matter—Ferri and LaFosse's dancing make it clear that these young lovers are meant to be together for life. Happy #TBT!

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Summer Study Advice
The author at 13, rehearsing at her home studio, Ballet Arts Theater, in Endicott, NY. Courtesy McGuire.

This story originally appeared in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of Pointe.

As a young student at a small ballet school in upstate New York, I was obsessed with getting into the School of American Ballet. From the age of 10, I entered class each day with the ultimate goal of studying at SAB dangling before me like a carrot on a stick. Every effort I made, every extra class I took was for the sole purpose of getting into what I thought was the only ballet school that really mattered.

I auditioned for SAB's summer program for the first time when I was 12. In the weeks that followed, I became a vulture hovering over my family's mail, squawking at my mother if the day's letters were not presented for my inspection when I walked through the door. The day the letter finally arrived, it was thin and limp. I cried for a week as I dealt with the crushing feeling of rejection for one of the first times in my life.

My mind filled with questions and self-doubt. What was wrong with me? Why wasn't I good enough? I figured I must be too fat, too slow, my feet too flat. I had worked so hard. I had wished on every fallen eyelash and dead dandelion in pursuit of my single goal, just to have a three-paragraph form letter conclude that I was a failure. For a while, I let myself wallow in the comfort of my resentment, content to believe that success should have come easily, and that to fall was the same as to fail.

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